Employers Fear Immigration Crackdown
Federal administration officials are stepping up their enforcement of immigration workers in the United States by cracking down on workers with invalid Social Security numbers and the employers who hire them. Some experts are concerned that the beefed-up enforcement will result in employers having to let workers go as the economy is facing an increasingly tight labor market.

In fact, employers will now be required to fire employees who are unable to clear up problems with their Social Security numbers within 90 days after being notified. Employers who fail to comply could face criminal penalties.

Homeland Security is also trying to use the department’s regulatory authority to raise fines on employers by about 25 percent. Current fines are so modest that some companies consider them a cost of doing business, the agency said.

Conservative groups support the crackdown, but unions representing immigrant-heavy work forces reacted with anger, including the Service Employees International Union, who have 1.9 million members in janitorial and security jobs, and nursing homes and home care.

New Orleans’ First
Post-Hurricane LEED Building Completed
The New Orleans Family Center is the first building to be certified under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program since the city was ravaged two years ago by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina.

The building — built by nonprofit HomeAid — is 4,400 square feet and will house both single women and single men who have children, as well as families with married parents who have been left transitionally homeless after the storms.

Among the sustainable materials to be used in the center are bamboo and cork flooring, recycled material for children’s playrooms and recycled wood fiber siding. The building is equipped with efficient energy systems, including a Geothermal HVAC system. The building has been registered with LEED and is expected to earn a Silver level certification.

The project was designed by students at Tulane University’s School of Architecture and was funded by donations made to HomeAid’s Gulf Coast Rebuilding Fund.

Antibacterial Soaps Show
No Additional Health Benefits
Simple bath soaps are just as effective as antibacterial soaps, which show no additional health benefit, according to a report released by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health.

In fact, the antibacterial agent triclosan may have adverse effects, causing some bacteria to become resistant to commonly used drugs such as amoxicillin. Triclosan is found in hundreds of body washes, cleaners, cosmetics and other products.

This conclusion is based on 27 studies conducted between 1980 and 2006 that looked at consumer soaps reinforced with triclosan.

Former President Clinton to Speak at Greenbuild
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton will deliver the keynote speech of the opening plenary of Greenbuild, held Nov. 7-9 in Chicago, announced the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) in a press release.

“This is an unprecedented opportunity for our green building community to hear from one of the greatest philanthropic and environmental leaders of this century,” said USGBC President and CEO Rick Fedrizzi. “The William J. Clinton Foundation is facilitating a series of global action plans that are addressing some of the most intractable problems of our times — AIDS, economic sustainability as a way to eradicate poverty, the elimination of childhood obesity. His framework has shown the power that groups of individuals have to effect real change.”

He continues, “Reducing the C02 emissions that lead to climate change is another key area of focus, and it’s being addressed by the Clinton Climate Initiative, with green building as a cornerstone of that effort. We are making a difference, and President Clinton’s unique ability to inspire individual action will add incredible momentum to this important work.”

This year’s Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and exposition dedicated to green building, is expected to be the largest yet, with more than 20,000 attendees.

Illinois Schools Go Green
The Green Cleaning Schools Act, passed earlier this year by the Illinois Senate and House, has been signed into law by Gov. Rod Blagojevich. This makes Illinois only the second state, after New York, to require green cleaning in schools.

The statute requires all elementary and secondary schools to establish a green cleaning policy and purchase and use only environmentally sensitive cleaning products. The Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council will issue guidelines, to which the schools must adhere within 90 days. However, schools may deplete their current stock of cleaning products before they must use the new green products.

Green Category Added to ISSA Innovation Awards
The theme of the third annual ISSA Innovation Awards Program, to be judged by customers at ISSA/INTERCLEAN® North America 2007, is “Live and Let’s Clean.”

The program features new products, services and technologies from more than 25 companies. The convention and trade show will be held October 23-26 in Orlando, Fla. Professional entertainers will display the newest products and services Oct. 24 and 25 on the show floor.

Those products or services that companies designate as environmentally preferable or sustainable, and that qualify based on third-party criteria, will be listed as green entries.

Attendees will vote for the most innovative product or service in each category, as well as for the three most innovative green products.